SA scientists on breaking the Covid-19 code

Prof Tulio De Oliveira at KRISP, Department of Virology and infectious diseases at UKZN. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

 

Durban – A team of world renowned scientists based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal has launched a fundraising campaign to support the analysis of Covid-19 data – which could provide vital research and insight on the spread of the virus across both South Africa and globally as the world battles to contain the devastating pandemic.

KwaZulu Natal’s Research, Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) and the Big Data Flagship Programme of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has a multi-disciplinary team of world-renowned experts which mainly focuses on analysis and control of viral outbreaks and genomic analysis. They have produced five of the six Covid-19 viral genomes in the country, which clearly showed how the virus was introduced into South Africa.

Speaking on Tuesday director of KRISP, Professor Tulio de Oliveira, said, “We are now working with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to help them to map the epidemic in South Africa.”

KRISP has partnered with the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Big Data Analysis at UKZN, Prof Francesco Petruccione, an A-rated scientist, to put together a team with more than 20 researchers, including computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, bioinformaticians, infectious diseases clinicians, theoretical physicists and quantum computing scientists to analyze the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa

“We have been reversing the brain drain and attracting top South African researchers back to the country and many top international researchers who left Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Harvard, Stanford and the National Institute of Health (NIH) to come to do high level research in South Africa,” said de Oliveira, who has also been participating in some of the outbreak investigations in hospitals of Covid-19 in South Africa.

He added, “We have access to large computer clusters and state-of-the-art laboratories with DNA high-throughput sequencers and automated DNA extraction robotic equipment,” he said.

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Author: Tanya Waterworth